Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A New Novel - The Fetter Lane Fleece

One Year Anniversary!

Greetings my well regarded readers, all several of you, I hope that this warmer weather (in the north) has you champing at the bit to race out and enjoy the Summer.  Although there was that recent snow fall this last week even as far south as the English Midlands to set one worrying about the summer frolics without a heavy insulated jacket, which kind of ruins the Maying idylls in the fields.  Anyway that, after a fashion leads me to the meat of this article.  It is now one year since I released the first novel in my first Red Ned Tudor Mysteries tad ah!  Yes twelve months ago last week The Liberties of London was unleashed upon an unsuspecting reading public via Amazon.  In that time it has done pretty spectacularly selling well over three thousand ebooks.  The next stage as my readers have repeatedly asked for, is to produce this in solid paper form, and today I wish to announce that (at least for the US) it is one step closer, the second of the Liberties novellas has just been released.  So to give value to a print edition this will be combined with The Liberties of London and another soon to be released short story involving the nefarious Earless Nick and Canting Michael -A Counsel of Rogues.
  In the meantime as part of this anniversary of publishing I have the humble pleasure to announce the release of my latest ebook The Fetter Lane Fleece.  A novella length story similar to The Liberties of London it will be a free download from Amazon for three days from 12 am PST (Pacific Standard Time) on the 17/05/12 to 12 pm on the 19/05/12.  So pass the word to your friends download and enjoy.
In the meantime I’d like to make a heartfelt plea to all my readers, if you liked a book in the Red Ned or Dark Devices series please on my bended knee I beg you leave a review on Amazon.  A recent article in The Guardian points out how individual readers tend to be much better at judging the quality of a story than ‘official’ critics.  As an indie I appreciate your comments and feedback and I wish to thank those of you who have taken the time to post me their commendations and concerns, they have made a difference to my writing efforts and the quality of the st.

As readers will discover this story is set but a few days after the events of The Liberties of London and involves Ned once more venturing into the debateable territory of the Liberties.  A jaunt, that as you will soon discover probably required somewhat more sober thought and reflection, rather than the generous quality of fine wine and Red Ned’s usual impulsiveness. 
Once more the cover art is by the promising graphic designer Alexander House who has this past week hit eighteen.  My how time flies, I remember the day of his birth so clearly Nelson Mandela had just become President of South Africa.  So congrats Alex!  For my readers here’s a link to his Deviant Art page where he displays a fair array of his burgeoning talent.  In what we believe is a positive step into branding and marketing the future covers of the Red Ned series will be laid out as if they were wood cuts, similar to The Liberties of London cover.  Giving a much more Tudor feel and identity to the stories when they come up in an Amazon search, this may involve reworking some of the previous covers for The Cardinal's Angels and The Queen's Oranges, so if you have an opinion please let me know. 
The other standard layout we will be continuing for both the Red Ned and Dark Devices series is the inside page of sketch art which will refer to a key factor of the story.  Even as storytellers’ writers still understands that a picture is worth a thousand words, so this will help set the scene and provide a little more eye candy for the Historical Fiction reader.
Now as a treat and a taster I give you the prologue of The Fetter Lane Fleece. 
Regards Greg

Prologue. Fleeing the Fleece

The snow covered mound on the rough cobbles crunched with the solid impact of his body and Ned whimpered as he rolled. Oh Christ that…that stung! The icy crystals set the skin of his bare back aflame, especially the long bloody scratches from that cursed sign. Well he hoped it was only the shock of the snow and ice that aggravated his current condition. It didn’t pay to investigate too closely what lay under the few inches of snow in a Liberties street. Dead dogs, piles of mouldering rushes and steaming kitchen waste where amongst the lesser ills. At least, remarked his daemon, it wasn’t the Fleete Ditch, a river of turds and tanner’s discharge. He’d dangled over that last week, seemingly for hours, on the brink of imminent death by drowning, as had Earless Nick’s luckless minion. No, no fear of that fate tonight. Instead he only had to worry about daggers, swords, cudgels, a butcher’s cleaver or two and the savage fury of an irate punk. See, said his daemon, nothing to worry about.
Rolling with the momentum of his sudden exit Ned staggered to his feet, and rendered slightly unsteady by his too solid landing, began to stagger off down Fetter Lane towards Fleete Street. A loud chorus of howls and curses from the Wool’s Fleece informed him that his solo sojourn was going to be of a very short duration. Damn. Ned hopped on one foot as he tried to continue his forward passage while at the same time attempting to pull on his left shoe. As for the rest of his clothes, his better angel may scold him for looking more naked than the wild Irish or bare breeched Scots, but unlike them he did have the ability to cloth his present nakedness. Just not now, thank the blessed saints for the shroud of night, even if the extra cold was shrinking his cods and setting his skin a prickle with goose bumps. If he continued much further in this ‘exposed condition’, his bollocks would be lumps either side of his neck and not even an hours delightful cajoling by Mistress Adeline could draw his pizzle out from its hiding spot.
Oh by the blessed saints why did the Twelve days of Christmas have to be so damnedly cold? Or Reedman’s brother, the stupid measle, so bereft of brains or commonsense?
Ned’s foot stamped down upon a thin layer of ice instantly breaking through the crust and he sank knee deep into the resulting pothole. Oh Christ! Oh Christ! Oh…Of a sudden his mind froze over in white pain as the water and muddy ice, chilled by weeks of Lord Frost’s breath, fountained up drenching his not so dangling nearest and dearest cods. The world around him blurred and he tried to draw breath to scream. Richard Reedman, you miserable bastard! If his cods were damaged or blighted the fool was going to suffer.
An angry cry from behind told Ned he didn’t have time to cater for clutching his frosty manhood. He needed to move, or else. The motivation of a prime kicking and thumping plus sundry assaults with cudgels and knives prompted his flagging efforts, and shivering as if he had the ague, Ned pushed on. The cries though increased in volume as the foisters of the Fleece rallied for a chase. Damn, damn, damn! This plan looked so good back at the Sign of the Spread Eagle. His angel remarked waspishly that it was warm in there by the blazing fire and he’d a full tankard of Rhenish in hand, so...
“Ere’s t’ stinking measle who ‘it me!” the fair Delphina screeched.
“A shillin’ ta the one what brings ‘im down!” The slightly muffled nasally voice of Flaunty Phil added. A hand over his broken nose may have hindered his speech, though an eager roar and cheer still answered the call.
Ned ignored his other shoe, gave up any further attempt at pulling on his shirt, doublet and hose and instead found a new burst of speed. Damn this! He just had to stop this dreadful habit of helping out friends with their Liberties follies. It was proving to be dangerous to his health, and by Satan’s great black hairy balls, so perishingly cold!
Download the ebook from Amazon to see how Ned fares in his latest Liberties adventure.
Regards Gregory House

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reality and Tudor Hollywood

Or Truth, TV and Tudors

Greetings my well regarded readers, all several of you, I hope that the approach of spring (in the north) fills you with the budding joys of renewed life after the crisp chill of winter.  At any time to restore the balance of the humours unsettled by the changing seasons I can recommend a good measure of brandywine infused with, ginger and pepper as a decent tonic.  I know it helped me regain a lost equilibrium.

I must I fear tender grovelling apologies to all my dear devoted readers it has been months, months, months!  Since my last posting, and I know your all missed me, please no more impassioned letters begging me to return.  For lo your dearest wish is granted!  I can but plead the pressures of the poverty stricken life of a writer with teenage children and several cats.  However all is not grim tidings and woe, not one but two new Red Ned novels are on the way (along with the drafts of four more other associated stories).  In fact the upcoming Fetter Lane Fleece should be freely available from Amazon within the week and for the first month it will be a free download.  The Smithfield Shambles though won’t be ready until late May due to editorial issues, ie my editor said it needed three more chapters and some more ‘word wroughting in the forge of inspiration to make it rock like The Liberties of London.  Be that as it may, the novel will be out soon enough.  In the meantime I’d like to make a heartfelt plea to all my readers, if you liked a book in the Red Ned or Dark Devices series please, on my bended knee I beg you leave a review on Amazon.  As an Indie writer and publisher I cannot (like the big six) pay for any advertising or endorsements, nor do I lean on dear old aunt Florence to leave a glowing review for her favourite nephew.  I need you the reader to leave real feedback, so vote with your keyboard even it is only to say ‘Jolly good work!’  There must be a few of you out there since I’ve sold over five thousand books in the past six months.  Thus hopefully there must be a few of satisfied readers out in the electronic aether.  Stand up for novels and stories you appreciate, rather than being bludgeoned by a slick PR campaign. 

Now on to the meat of today’s matter- Reality or Reality TV.

This subject could fill a hundred blogs nay even a thousand, so I will just stick to one small point in a recent discussion.  For those of you you’ve read my Red Ned novels you will have gained the impression that Sir Thomas More the Tudor politician and writer is not my hero, in truth the more I read of him, his career and his writing the less I like him (and yes I have actually read all his works and I do understand Utopia and its origins).  Now I know that there are whole websites and societies devoted to the hagiography of Saint Thomas More and they do a good job of singing his praises and smiting those who dare to point out a few unpleasant facts of his actual history as a servant of the Tudor crown and vitriolic man of letters.  Be that as it may they are entitled to their opinion, just as I am with mine, though even the most sycophantic More biographer (Ackroyd) has had to admit that Sir Thomas More was the creator of the first English secret police or Stasi whom he used to sniff any trace of heresy or heretical literature.  According to contemporaries his treatment of the arrested and accused was considered pretty grim even by Tudor standards.   This included imprisonment and questioning in the Tower and at his private estate at Chelsea, where it has been suggested More had several whipped and beaten.  Now this is just a very brief indication of some of the official acts of Sir Thomas More against those he disapproved of and doesn’t highlight his other controversial political actions during the first stage of the English Reformation. 

Recently I reviewed John Guy’s book on Margaret Roper A Daughter’s Love see the following:

This is for me a difficult book to talk about, firstly I have studied More for several years and unlike a number of contemporary authors and historians I am not impressed with the Tudor figure now viewed through rose tinted glasses. This is not to say that John Guy hasn’t done a splendid job in highlighting More’s career view the lens of his daughter. Guy is one of the most thorough Tudor period historians and his work on More’s public career is excellent. However I still find it annoying that those points of More’s professional life that deeply tarnish his reputation as a ‘humanist’ tended to be glossed over, such as the Richard Hunne case, his attacks on Luther, his creation of a secret police to hunt heretics and the very strange case of his imprisonment and trial.
So while Guy has done a splendid job I finished the book feeling very unsatisfied. Though if you like the period this is a must read or own for the wealth of background detail alone.

Okay fairly standard a good piece of work by John Guy but as I said I had reservations.  Then I began to receive a few disturbing comments criticising my position on More, once again fair enough except that one of them cited Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons as a source for the amazing, steadfast and compassionate Sir Thomas More.  I must admit to being flabbergasted, its like viewing that abysmal film Pearl Harbour as an accurate account of the 7 Dec 1941 attack or MGM’s 1959 Ben Hur as true Roman and early Christian history.  Now in this media savy age of Youtube, Wiki and a host of quality historical source sites these kind of errors should be less prevalent.  However this appears not to be so, having studied Robert Bolt in High School it is quickly apparent that like Arthur Miller (The Crucible) he used recognisable characters and events from history to highlight the ills and prejudices of contemporary society of the 1950’s.  To claim it as an accurate portrayal for the historical More is rather sad and I fear linked to our growing and current failure to discriminate between fact and fiction in daily life and media.  I also suspect it may also have a lot to do with the cutting of hard core reality subjects like History and Humanities for soft fantasy units such as Business Studies, Economics and Marketing.
I’m also curious if the recent Tudors series has caused a similar array of problems and misconceptions, I must admit to only viewing a few and found them a tad trite and woefully simplistic, in plot, dialogue and melded characters.  With such a wonderful opportunity to build on the glorious Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson I suspect they’ve opted for the more trashy Dynasty version.  But hey, I read Tudor histories for pleasure and try and write Tudor period novels for a living.  Its just that after Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Downton Abbey I felt historical accuracy for TV series may have been on the rise.

Now as I say in my novels they are a work of fiction, and characters in them may not be as strictly portrayed in historical records.  However my caveat is that I make a valid effort to craft a mostly accurate view of the Tudor Age one that I hope is interesting and accessible to the general reader.  I source as many period accounts, letters, maps, images, histories and physical pieces as possible to give my stories as real life as possible, a written form of reconstruction archaeology if you will.  So if any of my readers find problems or errors in my presentation of the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII, I encourage you to get stuck in and set me straight!  But please remember to quote a better source than a modern film.
Regards Gregory House